Employers join pledge to get a million vaccinated

The government has called for employers to share positive messages about vaccination
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A group of employers has pledged to make sure a million staff receive the Covid-19 vaccine as part of a government-led initiative.

Nine of the UK’s biggest employers – IKEA, Asda, Slimming World, Metro Bank, Procter & Gamble UK, Santander, Nationwide, Severn Trent and Merlin Entertainments – have formally pledged that they will promote “positive vaccination messages” encouraging employees to get the vaccine.

The government has called for other employers and industry bodies to mirror this support, after reports that 36% of people have refused the vaccine due to fears about side effects. So far, around 35 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and 18.4 million have been fully vaccinated.

Employers joining the pledge have agreed to offer flexibility around staff receiving the vaccine during working hours, to promote positive safety messages and to signpost staff to NHS-verified advice on vaccination if they have questions.

Industry bodies the British Beer and Pub Assocation and the Builders Merchants Federation have agreed to encourage their members to get involved, who collectively employ more than a million people.

Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said: “Our vaccination programme has so far saved thousands of lives, protecting our loved ones and bringing down infection rates to a point where we can see normality on the horizon.

“It’s fantastic that employers are prioritising the safety of their staff and doing all they can to encourage people to get vaccinated. I urge everyone to get their vaccines when they get the call so we can beat this pandemic together.”

The government’s national awareness campaign includes resources employers can use to share information, such as fact sheets, posters and videos.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi added: “I call on every business in the UK, no matter how big or small, to join the national charge and help your employees to access life-saving jabs when they are eligible.”

Faisal Tuddy, a superintendent pharmacist at Asda, said the retailer was encouraging employees to get their vaccine “as soon as they are eligible”. Staff are able to take time off for both appointments and if they feel unwell afterwards.

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